Chance - Not Like The Movies
The battle drums in my ear roared after Ventus said that.
We were in school, and for us to be watched meant that there were enemies in the vicinity. And that means that there were a lot of potential victims, too. On top of that list would probably be my friends. I was sure Ven knew about that and urged me. His eyes alone went to battle mode, but we had to carry on with our day like normal teenagers. After all, there was no convincing reason that those who were watching us would attack right away.
“Meet me behind the gymnasium after class.” Ven whispered to me. The others went to their respective classes and left us with a nod. “We need a plan. Samael is getting more aggressive.”
“How did you know we’re being watched?” I whispered back. My lips quivered in nervousness. I secretly hoped that it was just a sick joke. But Ven isn’t the kind of person who would. “Isn’t it too risky for them?”
“Chance, they’re just toying with us.” He admitted. His face looked austere, so I couldn’t help but be distracted during class. “Honestly, I don’t why they have not yet abducted you. They could literally take you away even if Rei was around. And we haven’t figured out yet why.”
I fell silent after that. The statements of our teacher went from completely interesting to completely gibberish in my ears. Ven seemed to be thinking of some sort of plan at my side. If ever that these watchers would move, I was sure that he would protect me. I could try to fight them off, but I was still pretty useless in a battle. My stomach made a nasty turn when I thought of it.
The rest of the day dragged on quickly. I hated that it did because we might suddenly get a confrontation on the school grounds. That would be a pretty careless move on their part. But if they were able to abduct me and find a way to extract Israfil, then it’s over. The war would be lost, and it was my fault because I was too careless.
It was our Geometry class, and we were put in pairs. Jaden and Caitlyn were in our class as well, so they got paired off right away. Ven and I were paired together since the teacher noticed that the new boy in class was most comfortable with me. That was pretty much the case anyway.
“Ven?” I said. “They only wanted Israfil because Israfil knows how to defeat the Black Sorceress, right?”
“Yeah.” Ven responded. “Why did you ask that?”
“Nothing.” I mumbled. Hesitation was on my voice. He noticed and waited for what I was about to say next. “I was just wondering. Why not just kill me right off the bat? That would save them a lot of time.”
“Rei and I were also wondering the same thing. We could try making contact with their father, but Necromancy is forbidden magic. And all of the necromancers are hiding. You need another necromancer to sniff them out.” He replied. “So we started thinking of possible scenarios why they’re not trying to kill you.”
“They need me.” I stated grimly. “It’s the only possible answer.”
“Yes, I’m afraid so.” He agreed. But the way he looked at me just made me feel worse. “Israfil knows the secret to the Black Sorceress’ immortality. And it’s also possible that only he knows how to undo the seal that his father placed on her soul. Israfil’s knowledge could be used to resurrect the Black Sorceress or eradicate her once and for all.”
“And that made me the perfect target.” I muttered. Ven couldn’t help it but take pity on me. I couldn’t blame him either. “I’m so screwed up.”
“Correct.” He quipped back. “I also think that they’re just taking their time to regroup themselves and try to re-establish their allies all over Altimeraea. That would take some time. But we’re talking about a year after the physical body has been destroyed. I could only assume that they need to prepare a few things. Israfil’s knowledge is just the final trigger to finish the whole plan.”
“You lost me after Altimeraea.” I grumbled. Then the bell rang, and everyone started to leave.
Jaden and Caitlyn followed Ven and me outside the classroom. Both of us were silent because we were planning to get away as soon as possible. Meanwhile, everyone was running towards the front of the school for some reason. There were so much noise and chaos. Worse than the usual battlefield called dismissal. Dylan and Anya were in the crowd that passed by our classroom.
“What on earth is going on?” Jaden exclaimed.
“JJ is beating up someone again on the front yard.” Dylan replied. Then Anya just shrugged and motioned us to see it together. “And I heard the other kid is a black belt in karate. That’s why everyone is so psyched about it.”
“They’re probably expecting a Hollywood level bully fight scene.” Caitlyn said, rolling her eyes. “Have you ever seen an actual karate sparring match? They’re just making a bluff or a feint more than half the time. It’s not as cool as the ones on TV.”
“Whatever. Let’s just all go.” Jaden interrupted with a devious smile. For someone with a penchant for being troublesome, we should’ve expected that. “Don’t deny we never wanted a bully ever get beaten up. This is a chance of a lifetime.”
With all his effort, he started pushing our other three friends towards the front of the school. I followed them, but Ven tugged my sleeve and shook his head. He motioned me to go with the plan.
“Chance!” Jaden called out. He stopped for us while the other three kept walking away. “What are you waiting for? Let’s go before the show is over. I wanna see everything before that kid throws JJ in the trashcan!”
“We’ll be right behind you guys.” Ven replied cheerily. But I was the only one who knows how fake it was. Then he pulled me in a different direction. The others went on and didn’t notice us due to the excitement. That seemed to convince Jaden, and left.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“I prepared a ritual circle like the one at home a while ago at the back of the bleachers. It’s covered by a cart of basketballs.” He explained. We walked fast before someone could notice us. “We need to get go back to Altimeraea to regroup and sort this out with Rei. The fight in front of the school was a good distraction for us to get away.”
“I’m not ready for a roller coaster ride.” I whined. “As much as I like to see the wonders of your world, the only way to get there involves my stomach getting turned inside out.”
“We don’t have a choice.” Ven pointed out. His voice was tense, which made me more nauseous than I already was. “I can’t even sense who we are up against.”
“When were you able to prepare this?” I questioned. But we just kept walking towards the gymnasium. “We were together the whole time. I don’t remember you getting away at all.”
“That circle was prepared before you even knew me.” He replied dryly. It was a matter of fact for him at times. And this was one of those instances. But I just felt amazed that everything was just so planned out for my safety. “Rei wanted me to prepare a quick getaway for emergencies like today. But that circle is a quick cast, and it’s only for single use. Think of it as a Fire Exit.”
“Well, we’re not under fire.” I scoffed.
“Not yet.” Ven groaned. “Hopefully it stays that way.”
We kept walking towards a gymnasium. But our walking never stopped. The hallway just kept expanding endlessly like we were in some sort of maze. Ven stopped midway and looked around. He waved his arms and cast a spell. Lightning sparked on his hands, then with a whip of his right, a bolt of lightning jolted outwards but vanished as soon as it hit the wall.
Suddenly, a loud grunt was heard from inside the wall as if a person was hit by the spell. A body of a man phased out of the wall and fell on the floor. It caused me to cast my own spell and ready a couple of gravity-lock spells on both my forearms just in case someone came in too close.
“Crap.” Ven winced. Men started coming out of the walls as if they were non-existent. Blood was drained from my face as soon as I realized we were already surrounded. “We’re too late.”
“I didn’t think you would get to strike down one of my men right away.” A voice stated from the far end of the hallway. “If there is any consolation, you have some sharp instincts there. It’s such a waste if this ends up into a small skirmish. There’s only two of you.”
The walls soon vanished into thin air, and we found ourselves in the middle of the gymnasium. They were just a bunch of illusions. We went into the middle of the gym’s basketball court, and we still thought that we were inside the hallway.
A man soon stepped forward that was distinct from the other people that had surrounded us. There were seven of them, excluding this unknown person that spoke to us. All of them were wearing hooded cloaks that covered their heads. It was bright in the vast room, yet a veil of darkness hid their faces from us.
“You know what we want.” He said and removed the hood. It was a man in his mid-thirties with a sturdy and robust build. His beard was trimmed, and gray hair was just starting to grow on their roots. “I don’t want to kill a kid. It’s against my personal convictions. But if there’s no choice, then I will.”
“It can’t be.” Ven gasped. “I thought you went hiding.”
“Are you going to introduce me to your friend?” I asked. The man didn’t look impressed at my comment. “I’m getting presented to a lot of mages lately.”
“He’s no friend.” My friend quipped back. “And he’s no mage either.”
“Ouch.” I replied nervously. For some reason, I didn’t find the will to be quiet. I felt so compelled to break the intimidation the man was trying to show. “You don’t have to be so cold.”
“Shut up!” The man barked. He took out huge tobacco and lit one. The principal would have gone nuts if he saw someone smoking in the middle of this building. “Just come with us. And everything will go peacefully.”
“No, thanks.” I said.
“You’re no friend of the Black Sorceress, Abraxas. In fact, Samael attacked some of your men a year ago. Were you able to forgive him right away? That does not uphold the honor your people take pride in.” Ven taunted. I could feel his avroi charging his body like a battery. The temperature near him was slowly rising. “You don’t have any good reason to take this person away.”
“Samael has what we need.” Abraxas admitted. His eyes were fierce red, and when he looked at me, I was further drained of color. Terror could only come from those with red eyes. “Your friend is a good bargaining chip, don’t you think so?”
“The Supreme Qirian Council will have your head if you do take him.” Ven objected. It just made the conversation more uncomfortable. I couldn’t help but step back. “You’ll not only be taking someone from a noble family of Vladimir, but also the son of a former Praegis. Xanxus-kyvernil will hunt you down.”
“Spare me the political lecture.” The man whined and scratched his beard. He looked like he was enjoying the exchange. But I was aching to run away. “It just makes things worse just because you’re also from a noble family.”
“And I’ll show you what it means to be against a noble family.” Ven glowed bright and blasted him with a bolt of lightning. But the man suddenly teleported to a different spot in a blink of an eye. “Chance! Get out of here now!”
Before I could make a move, Abraxas was suddenly in front of me. He grabbed me by the throat, and I tried to summon a blade from my shadow. I swung my weapon that dispersed back into shadow form before I could even stab him. Ven charged at him, but his arm was too fast and struck him quickly in the neck.
It was so fast. The hand sliced deep through my friend’s neck cleanly. His head was thrown away from his body and landed a few meters from our spot. I could only stare in horror at how he was able to behead someone who could move as fast as lightning. My stomach turned inside out as the blood splattered everywhere.
“Ven!” I cried out. His body dropped to his knees without resistance. Tears started to flow. “Ven!”
I wanted to puke, but his hand was firmly planted on my neck. My guts couldn’t take the fact that a friend was killed just like that. Blood was on the wooden floor, and Ven’s head was turned away from me. I couldn’t even look at it. My knees gave in, and my neck hung on the whim of his hand.
“Now, we can enjoy a good conversation.” Abraxas whispered.
“Screw you!” I roared. But the last of my strength drained away. My voice faded away. Yet the enemy before me had a proud smug on his face. “You murdered my friend!”
Then suddenly, there was a zap. And it stung like hell.
In an instant, I saw Ven holding my arm, and Abraxas was in front of us a few meters away. There were only three of us. My friend’s neck was still intact, and he looked to be well and breathing.
“Sorry.” Ven apologized. “I had to shock you to disable his illusion magic. It looked like it worked.”
“What the heck happened?” I gasped. A weak pulsed coursed through my forehead. “I saw you get killed! You attacked him head-on!”
“It was what he wanted you to see.” Ven admonished. The man’s grimace just became more evident. He was but a clever deceiver. “I never attacked him.”
“Relax.” The man grinned with malice. His eyes had turned red, and a strong wave of avroi emerged from both of them. “I’m not going to kill a kid. I was just playing rough with you guys.”
“You’re not going to get what you want.” Ven taunted the man. He raised his hand, and a ball of lightning was in the center of his palms. It was more concentrated compared to the previous attacks he used. “We can take you on here and now!”
“Well,” the man sighed and shook his head. “I didn’t know jokes were allowed in your ranks these days.”
I took a deep breath and sent more of my avroi downwards into my own shadow. Then I summoned a couple of dark orbs controlled by each of my hands. My focus was thin, but seeing how dangerous the enemy gave me the boost to mentally prepare myself. I willed the orbs to be shaped into a couple of claymore-sized swords and held them.
“Even the little puppy is willing to die for a useless cause.” Abraxas pointed out. For some reason, he looked sad when I met his gaze. “That’s just pitiful.”
With a snap of the man’s finger, his arms turned into a flock of bats that charged towards us. Ven summoned winds that circled around his vicinity while I stabbed on if my giant swords into the ground and cast a gravity spell that would cause everything around me to be dragged into the ground. It was a tricky move that I haven’t mastered yet, so I could only use it in a small diameter. Probably a 2 feet radius or so.
Yet when the bats got near us, none of it was affected by our magic. The bats just pass through us. It was none but a display of his illusion magic.
“Chance!” Ven called out and blasted me with a gust of wind that threw me backward by a few feet. I landed on my backside and grunted when I saw the man landing from my previous spot with a well-placed slash that was guided by my own magic. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine!” I bellowed. With a bit of magic and raw physical strength from my average body build, I threw the sword at the enemy. He effectively dodged it by stepping aside and was hurled straight at Ven. “Watch out!”
But my friend guided the flow of the sword by augmenting it with his wind magic and redirected it around. The sword made a considerable u-turn midway as Ven elevated its position upwards. Its trajectory looked like a roller coaster that was about to make a loop. With the tip was facing up, Ven threw it back as if it was a tidal wave about to crash land on the enemy.
Abraxas smiled as the sword stabbed through him into the ground. But he made no grunt nor shrieked in pain. The attack set on me was an illusion, and we played through his trap. His illusion simply faded into thin air, and we looked around to check where he was.
An arm suddenly appeared behind Ven and wrapped it around his neck. A dagger was then placed by his throat.
“Wrong move!” Ven declared and released a jolt of lightning throughout his body. It threw Abraxas back, and his body slowed down from the aftershock of the spell. But then he was able to recover in the second and threw the knife at Ven. He was able to dodge it with ease. “That’s not going to work.”
Abraxas raised both his arms, and black sand started pouring out of them in a massive amount. In a matter of seconds, the whole gymnasium was covered in his illusion and significantly reduced our ability to see. Ven rushed towards my side and then to my back. That way, we could see each other’s blind spots.
Even the sound of the gushing sand was an illusion for our ears. It looked like his magic directly affects our minds and not just the eyes. I felt it crawling inside my skull. Ven charged both his palms and released a weak pulse of lightning that scattered around us. It kept dispersing into the vast open space. Ven followed it by taking out daggers in his hand and throwing them at random directions.
All the daggers hit some sort of ritual seals that I never noticed before. They were drawn on small pieces of paper that were scattered in different locations. There was a total of eight of them. With a wave of his hand, the illusion vanished, and everything was back to normal. Abraxas was all but gone, and we were alone in the gymnasium.
A deafening silence followed. Ven and I didn’t move for the next few seconds.
“He got away.” I groaned, still looking around. But I couldn’t sense anything at all. “Don’t forget to teach me the science behind that magic. I don’t know how I would survive without you.”
“Chance?” A voice came from the door. It was a very familiar voice. Then a chill ran up my spine. My lips quivered, and my heart wanted to quit. “What’s going on here?”
We looked around to see who it was. His deep blue eyes were screaming in shock and awe. Then confusion crashed over the whole of his humanity. The way he looked at me was priceless and fearful at the same time. It was none other than Jaden. And it just had to be Jaden, of all people.
“You’re not supposed to be here.” It was all I could say. My guts fell to the bottom of my body. “Why didn’t you leave? I told you to go ahead!”
His eyes darted to Ven then back to me. Jaden couldn’t even move from his spot. His jaw just dropped, and the three of us stared at each other in silence. And the quiet was eerie and loud. We could even hear the cheer coming from the front side of the school.
The door on the other end of the opened.
Rei and a woman came out. Both of them were followed by Nisroc. It was already too late when I saw Rei move behind Jaden. It was too fast. My reflexes kicked in and summoned a couple of blades from my shadows that erupted from the ground. I commanded both of it to fly towards Rei, but Ventus outmatched my speed. He struck me with his palm on the center of my chest, and my whole body went numb.
I could barely roar when Rei struck Jaden behind him. My best friend was knocked out cold in front of me. And I couldn’t even do anything to help him. Ven caught me before I fell to the ground.
“What are you doing?” I groaned weakly. Even my tongue was having a hard time forming the words I wanted to spit at him. “I knew I could never trust you.”
“I’m very sorry, Chance.” Ven apologized. His eyes were sad, and caressed my cheek. Rei just looked at me coldly. Nisroc and the other woman had blank stares on their faces. “Please understand that we’re doing this for Jaden’s protection.”
“How is this protection?” I objected. “You almost killed him.”
“We only knocked him out before all this event gets ingrained deep into his mind. He will only think it was a weird dream.” Rei explained. Then he turned to Ven with a stern look. “This falls under your accountability. You were too careless. I already taught you how to counter Abraxas’ magic.”
Rei gently laid Jaden down on his back, and the woman stepped forward to inspect him. She placed her palm on the wooden floor, and a ritual circle appeared underneath their bodies. The seal drew itself on its own from her shadow. Then a faint glow emanated from it. The woman then placed one of her palms on Jaden’s stomach area and the other on his forehead.
“Who is she?” I hissed. “And what is she doing with Jaden?”
“Her name is Estelle Stastra.” Rei replied. The way he looked at me was a bit smug and pity. “She’s a specialist and can help us immensely. Her magic focuses on binding, and she will bind Jaden’s memory so he won’t remember any of this. It’s easier to protect your friend this way.”
I fell silent. Rei made sense. Making sure of Jaden’s ignorance would make him less of a target by Samael. Estelle proceeded and cast the spell quickly before someone else could come in. That would have been a bigger problem.
Suddenly, Jaden’s eyes opened, but his pupils were rolled back to his head. It had caused my knees to buckle. His mouth open, and he was trying to shout, but no noise came out. My best friend’s face was filled with anguish and agony.
“What’s happening with him?” I cried out. Then I stepped forward, but Ven grabbed me by the arm and shook his head. “Stop it! Please, stop it!”
“Jaden’s fighting back.” Ven pointed out. His frown was a mix of pity and urgency. It didn’t make me comfortable, at the very least. “It would help him a lot if you can make him feel that you’re also at peace with it.”
I nodded at him, and Rei motioned me to get closer to Jaden. So I knelt beside him and held his hand. Tears fell to my cheeks as I watched him suffer from the consequences of our carelessness. If only I was more powerful, then I could have protected all of them. His body stopped convulsing as I grasped his hand tighter.
I lowered my head and whispered to his ear, “I swear, I won’t let anything happen to you ever again. I promise.”